Driving Guide

Sri Lanka Driving Guide

Sri Lanka is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

2021-08-05 · 9min read

Sri Lanka is off from their list for some tourists, but if you are into scenic places, wildlife conservation, agriculture, history, architecture, and pilgrimage, this country is a must-visit. The country offers a variety of destinations that, apart from experiencing and seeing them first hand, you will also come to know the rich culture of Sri Lanka.

Being an island country, expect Sri Lanka to treat you to varied destinations, especially beaches where you can go sunbathing, swimming, or even do extreme sports such as surfing. Never leave the country without trying out their tea at tea plantations. You will likely have to learn some phrases in Tamil and Sinhala but some Sri Lankans also speak the English language.

How Can This Guide Help you?

Traveling to Sri Lanka’s tourist destinations entails a lot of time and exploration, and the most comfortable way to do it is to have your transportation. First, you need to have an International Driver’s Permit/License (IDP) in Sri Lanka to rent a car. Read further below to know more about the country, customs, and tradition, Sri Lanka’s driving etiquette, what you need to do to rent a car, directions on the top tourist destinations while driving around Sri Lanka.

General Information

Known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” the island country of Sri Lanka is home to biodiversity and wildlife resources, sandy beaches, mountainous terrains, agricultural landscape, and scenic architecture. These features make Sri Lanka a go-to country for history, watersports, wildlife, and nature enthusiasts. It is also one of the most visited countries for research due to its wide array of flora and fauna.

Geographic Location

As its former name, Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, is an island country in South Asia that sits in the Indian Ocean southwest of the Bay of Bengal and southeast of the Arabian Sea. If you would take a look at the map, Sri Lanka is a small island near India. It’s also called ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ because of its shape and location.

Languages Spoken

Sri Lanka is home to many languages and ethnicities. Sinhala and Tamil are the two official languages. These are the most commonly used by Sri Lankans. However, English is widely used as well, especially for academic, business, and scientific purposes. It can also come in handy for you as you travel to different destinations and have transactions with Sri Lankans as you tour the country since some businesses use the English language.

Land Area

Sri Lanka is located on the Indian Plate, a major tectonic plate formerly part of the Indo-Australian Plate. The heart of the country is what they call the Central Highlands, which is a rough mountainous area about 1000 feet above sea level which occupies the south-central region of Sri Lanka.

The country’s natural vegetation covers up almost one-third of its land area. However, some natural vegetation has been depleted due to settlements, agriculture, and extraction. However, Sri Lanka’s virgin forests are rich in flora like tree species such as mahogany, satinwood, teak, and fauna such as leopards, elephants, bears, buffalo peafowl.

History

In the early times of Sri Lankans, traders of luxury goods and spices attracted traders from outside the country, hence its diverse ethnicity and population there Portuguese arrival in Sri Lanka has controlled the island’s maritime regions and its external trade. They were taken over by the Dutch then by the British that led to colonizing the whole country from 1815 to 1948.

During the early 20th century, a political independence movement resulted in Sri Lanka’s (or Ceylon) independence in 1948. However, it was only in 1972 that its name was changed to its current one from Ceylon. Sri Lanka has also experienced a 26-year civil war, which ended in 2009 after the Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Government

Sri Lanka is a democratic republic and a unitary state form of government. It is the oldest democracy in Asia. Its government has three branches. First is the executive branch, where the president is considered the head of state, the legislative branch, which consists of a 225-member legislature with 196 members elected in multi-seat constituencies and 29 elected by proportional representation Judicial branch of the Sri Lankan government.

Tourism

In 2019, there were 1.9 million tourists who visited the country, making China, India, Britain, Russia, and Australia the top five markets. A wildlife hotspot with 26 national parks and two marine parks, home to some of the rarest species, thousands of kilometers of coastlines, heritage, and pilgrimage sites. This country is a combination of history and biodiversity, not to mention the wide array of exotic spices, which shows the diverse culture.

International Driving Permit/License in Sri Lanka FAQs

Your International Driver’s Permit is a national license counterpart that serves as your special permit so that you can rent and drive a motor vehicle in Sri Lanka. An IDP is significant for a hassle-free road trip across the country. You don’t want to stop on possible checkpoints longer when all you want is to devote your time to explore the wonders of Sri Lanka. Other significant information below is for you to know about using an international license for driving in Sri Lanka.

How to Get an International Driving Permit/License in Sri Lanka?

You can always process your application wherever you are! Log in to your computer or mobile phone and fill out a form on the website. The IDP team will review your application. Once your application is approved, you will receive the digital copy sent to your email, and your physical IDP will also be shipped to you. If you are having problems with your application, the rental car company's customer service online can assist you on how to get an International Driving Permit/License.

How Long is an IDP valid?

It’s all up to you! It depends on how long you want your IDP to be valid. An IDP issued by the International Driver’s Association has a validation of 1 to 3 years. The cost of your IDP also depends on how long you want it to be valid. The longer the validity, the higher it costs. Furthermore, you can always renew your IDP once it expires. You can use your IDP even after driving in Sri Lanka.

Do I Need an IDP to Drive in Sri Lanka?

When driving in Sri Lanka, one must have an IDP. Only those tourists who have an IDP are given access to rent a car by rental car owners and are allowed to drive in Sri Lanka. IDP is also essential while exploring the country since there will be checkpoints along the way. It’s hassle-free when you already have the necessary documents presented not to waste your time while traveling. It is still a must to have with you your driver’s license when driving in Sri Lanka.

Renting A Car in Sri Lanka

You have your IDP ready with you, your driver’s license, bags are packed, itineraries being handed out for your road trip in Sri Lanka. The question is, do you have a car already? Here are some essential details you have to consider renting a car in Sri Lanka.

Car Rental Companies

Wandering around Sri Lanka is much more comfortable and enjoyable if you have your transportation. Several visitors in the country choose to rent a car to manage their time according to their itineraries. There are a lot of rental car agencies that you can use for your Sri Lanka adventure. Europcar and Sixt are two of the cheapest and most popular car rental services in Sri Lanka, respectively.

There is also SR Rent a Car with the most number of rental car locations in the country. Regardless of which city you are in, this car rental company can provide you a car as you go around Sri Lanka. SR Rent a Car has 22 locations across the country.

Documents Required

Sri Lanka has a well-maintained transport system, thus making it an excellent destination to go road tripping. Car rentals are spurs throughout the country, making it very accessible for you to get a car. Sri Lankan car rental agencies usually require you to provide them your home country driving license. If it’s not in English, that’s when IDP would come in, and a photocopy of it. They will also need your passport with a photocopy on the photo page and your Sri Lankan Visa.

Vehicle Types

Choosing a car for your adventure depends on the length of your stay and the number of people traveling. Also, it sometimes depends on your itinerary in Sri Lanka since there are destinations in the country where you should drive a four-wheeled car. You can navigate through Sri Lanka in a day as it is a small island country. One can rent a compact car as some roads tend to be narrow.

If you wish to visit Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands, which is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you might as well choose a four-wheeled car since roads can be rugged and hilly. Renting a car in Sri Lanka can give you the freedom to visit places at your pace and time, as Sri Lanka's public transport can’t take you to certain areas as your car can.

Car Rental Cost

Car rental fees vary from companies to countries. It also depends on the inclusions of the rental package that you will get. Introductory rates mostly include the number of mileage, local taxes, insurance provided by the operator, and some car rental companies offer full tank on the first of the rental.

Apart from the mentioned above, additional costs when renting a car may include pick up and drop off services, child seats, GPS for faster navigation from destination to destination. They can also charge you extra when you fail to meet the scheduled date of the rented car’s return. That’s aside from the fuel, toll, and parking you need to include in your budget. It is better to review and check the car rental company’s terms and conditions to avoid unnecessary charges for your trip duration.

Age Requirements

In most of Sri Lanka, car rental companies require a minimum age of 21. However, this will differ depending on the car company and the kind of car you will be renting. There are some which require a maximum age of 75. When you are 21-25, you will incur a young driver fee. It is better to contact your chosen car rental company if you are under 25 years old, just to be sure.

Car Insurance Cost

Make sure to check the car insurance in Sri Lanka before renting it. Based on Sri Lankan law, the vehicle needs to have third party liability insurance. Your rental agreement includes having your car rental company pay for any claims the other parties will have in case of an accident. However, there will be additional costs for any damage caused to the vehicle not covered by the insurance agreed upon.

Car Insurance Policy

You can purchase additional insurance for your trip to Sri Lanka. You might want to add a few insurances: Loss-Damage Waiver, Personal Accident Insurance (PAI), and Personal Effects. The Loss-Damage Waiver covers any financial responsibility for any loss or damage incurred to the rental vehicle. PAI is a policy that covers medical costs for private drivers and passengers in case of accidents. Meanwhile, Personal Effects is a policy in the events of theft inside your vehicle.

The Road Rules in Sri Lanka

Now that you have all the requirements for renting a car, the next thing is to familiarize yourself with the road signs in Sri Lanka. Apart from the familiarization, it is also important that you understand every road rule in the country. This will ease up the possible troubles you might encounter while driving in Sri Lanka.

Road Sri Lanka Photo by  Hendrik Cornelissen

Important Regulations While Driving in Sri Lanka

It is already given that everyone must follow specific rules and regulations. And being religious to following road rules in a foreign land is no exemption. For you to drive in Sri Lanka, you must be at least 18 years old. Also, never forget to bring with you important documents when driving. Below are some things you must be familiar with while driving in Sri Lanka.

Drunk Driving

You must have an alcohol intake of not more than 60mg per 100ml of blood in your body, which is equivalent to 0.06% of the alcohol body content. You are rarely breathalyzed in Sri Lanka. However, it is not an excuse for you to drive under the influence. If you are caught, since police officers do not normally breathalyze, you will have to go to the process of going to a medical officer and taking a blood test, that’s apart from settling your penalties for doing so.

Turning Signal at an Intersection

Streets in the city Colombo can get very busy especially during rush hours, you must remember to give signals to the other drivers, before crossing roads or intersections. Complacency is also not an excuse if you are driving on rural roads. Quiet streets do not mean you can immediately do whatever you want on the road, it is proper to signal drivers you meet when planning to turn left or right. Don’t turn your adventure into misfortune because of a single breach.

Parking

If you wish to park your car after a long day of driving, make sure to find safe parking spaces and avoid accidents. Some road accidents are caused by parking on sidewalks and unauthorized places on the road, and you don’t want that to happen to your short vacation.

No vehicles are allowed to park in public parking spaces unless the driver owns a valid ticket or special permit issued by an authorized officer. There are pay-parking spaces across the country. Just make sure that it is safe, well lighted, and preferably close to where you will be taking your rest. The last thing you want is to lose your car while in the middle of your trip.

Ensure you and your vehicle is in good condition before driving

Before renting out your chosen car, make sure to check for scratches or any physical damage so you can address it to the vendor. It is not all the time you are familiar with the car you will drive, so read it if there is a manual. Make sure it is registered, check the brakes, wipers, seat belts, and horns if they are functional.

When on the road, you may never know the circumstances, especially if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere at night. Some things you have to keep in check while on the road in Sri Lanka include a first aid kit, visibility vests, early warning devices such as reflective triangle signage that comes in two colors (yellow and red), and beam detectors.

General Standards of Driving in Sri Lanka

Each country has its own road rules that drivers must abide by, Sri Lanka generally has almost the same road rules and signs as other countries, but the following are some general guidelines you have to remember to have a trouble-less road trip.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Sri Lanka are classified into three. When driving in Sri Lanka in a residential or rural area, your full speed must not exceed 50km/h or 31mph. When passing through provincial roads and other urban areas, you can drive atm/h 0r 43mph at a maximum speed. Meanwhile, if you're on a paid highway or expressway, you can drive at a speed of 100km/h or 62mph at most.

Sri Lankan authorities do not have speed cameras. They check your speed limits through a handheld device. the police are very strict on speed limits, so even during night time that there are fewer cars, they still fine you if you are overspeeding. Also, there is no specific tolerance limit, and you can get fined for just driving a kilometer per hour faster than the speed limit. It's best to stay on the speed limit assigned per area to avoid any fines.

Driving Conditions

Driving through Sri Lankan roads can be a roller coaster ride. There were newly installed expressways to ease car congestion and traffic jam on main highways and made it faster for motorists to pass through from destination to destination, especially in the Sri Lanka capital. However, roads can be a little rough and less polished once you move towards the rural outskirts and into the Central Highlands.

The condition of the roads can also affect the speed of your car. If you plan to visit ancient and small cities and visit tea plantations, driving times in Sri Lanka to these destinations can last three to six hours, depending on the route you take. It is best to map out your itineraries and destinations properly and choose locations suitable for your driving skill level.

Seat Belt Laws

Seat belts must be worn by the driver and passenger while driving in Sri Lanka. There is a corresponding fine for not abiding by this rule. Also, you do not want to jeopardize your trip in case of accidents by not wearing seat belts. Also, make sure to secure a car seat if you are traveling with a toddler. It is not advisable to share seat belts with a toddler while on the road.

Road Signs

Sri Lankan road signs are almost the same as other countries, so it is understandable and already familiar to anyone with driving experience. Here are some common Sri Lankan traffic signs that you will see while you drive through Sri Lankan roads.

  • For Warning Road Signs: falling rocks ahead, road work ahead, cyclist crossing ahead, junction ahead, and more
  • For Priority Road Signs: stop, give way, priority road, priority of the oncoming traffic, and more
  • For Mandatory Road Signs: turn left, turn right, pass this side, straight, turn left ahead, and more

An undivided focus is what you need when driving in Sri Lanka. Though these signs are already familiar to you, it pays to be extra cautious, especially when driving through a not so familiar turf.

Right of Way

Sri Lanka uses road signs to assign the right of way. Priority signs are commonly used by Sri Lankan traffic for the right of way. Also, usually seen while driving in Colombo and other major cities are traffic lights that direct the vehicles that pass through. For junctions, there is a separate traffic light for left turns. Otherwise, it is advisable to turn left only on a green light. However, if there are none, priority is given to the vehicles that turn right.

If traffic lights are not functioning or there are no traffic lights available, you will also see Sri Lankan traffic officers/enforcers operating the traffic. Flashing the head-light in Colombo is common. This is sometimes used by drivers who want to overtake a vehicle on a single lane road (one lane in each direction). Once you flash the headlight once or twice, usually, cars ahead of you will give you the right of way.

The minimum or legal driving age in Sri Lanka varies from a Sri Lankan to a tourist. A Sri Lankan national can drive legally, given the necessary documents like the local drivers license is valid, is 18. Meanwhile, for tourists who wish to drive in Sri Lanka, one must be at least 21 years old.

Law About Overtaking

Conditions are being placed by Sri Lanka for those vehicles overtaking. Yes, you can overtake the vehicle ahead of you but only on dotted or double while lines. You are not allowed to overtake on single solid white lines or double white lines.

Some roads in Sri Lanka only have two lanes (one lane for each direction), so remember to overtake on the road’s right side. Bear in mind that you need to avoid overtaking on pedestrian lanes until pedestrians have crossed the street. Some local vehicles like huge passenger buses and private cars normally sound their horns or flash their headlights to overtake.

Driving Side

You drive on the left side of the road when you are in Sri Lanka. It may be uncomfortable for some tourists, which roadside for driving in Sri Lanka will be, especially those who are used to driving on the other part of the road. The main reason why you have to focus on driving—also following the correct side of the road while driving can prevent minor to serious road accidents and injuries.

Driving Etiquette in Sri Lanka

The exciting and fun part of going on a road trip are the circumstances you will have in your journey. However, it’s rare not to meet unfortunate ones while traveling. It can’t be avoided that you will experience minor to major car problems. Communication skills can also come in handy, especially if you need to talk to the locals.

Car Breakdown

No matter how many times you have checked the condition of your car prior to the trip, some things can’t be avoided. If your car breaks down in the middle of the road, turn the hazard lights on and get the vehicle to a safe location. If you are in the countryside or on the outskirts of Sri Lanka, steer clear your vehicle as far out as possible from the travel lane. You can call the police, immediate responder, or your car rental provider to assist you.

Remember you have your early warning device with you? You can use that to signal oncoming motorists of a car problem ahead. If the vehicle breaks down on a busy road, keep your seat belts on, never get out of the car to immediately make a repair. Make sure to position your vehicle in a safe place before getting out.

Police Stops

Police officers conduct random police checks. While driving in Sri Lanka, if you happen to see authorities asking you to pull over, do so. Lower your speed and stop at a safe place where the officer might have some questions. The police may ask for a license, registration, and proof of insurance. Do not consent to a search of your car or personal belongings. However, be polite in communicating with authorities, especially on their reason for asking you to pull over.

Another reason for the police to stop you is the possibility of you committing a traffic violation. This is the time when you need to present your IDP, local driver’s license, and other documents. Don’t run away or bad-mouth an officer. Instead, ask for clarification as to the kind of traffic violation you committed and ways to settle them.

Asking Directions

Sri Lankans are one of the warmest people when it comes to welcoming tourists. So it won’t be a problem if you happen to ask for directions from them. Sri Lankans have two languages that they use in communicating - Sinhala and Tamil. However, no need to fear since most of them also speak English. There are even some who speak the three.

If it’s your first time in Sri Lanka, you also have to bear in mind that it does not mean showing refusal or displeasure if they shake their head. Locals do that to agree. To make the right message across, especially when asking for directions, verify and confirm through talking with them. Here are some phrases you might want to use when talking to Sri Lankans.

  • “Ayubowan” (Aayu-bo-wan) - Hello
  • “Bohoma Istuti” (Bo-hoh-mah Iss-too-tee) - Thank you very much.
  • “Karunakara” (Karu-nah-kara) - Please
  • “Mata Terinneh Neh” (Mata Terenne Na) - I don’t understand
  • “Oyate Ingrisi Katha Karanna Puluwanda” (Oyate Ingrisi Ka-tha Karanna Pulu-wanda) - Do you speak English
  • “Meeka Kiyadha” (Meka Kiyada) - How much is it
  • “Hotela” - Hotel
  • “Kaama” - Food
  • “Bank Eka” - Bank
  • “Apana Sala” - Restaurant
  • “Singhala Danna Naa” - I Don’t Speak Sinhala.
  • “Kohomadhe” - How are you?
  • “Hari Hondai” - Okay/Very Good
  • “Poddak Inna” - Wait a Minute!

Checkpoints

Sri Lanka is generally safe for international travel. Though there have been terror threats in the past year, the Sri Lankan government has enforced tighter security within High-Security Zones. Don’t be surprised when authorities ask you to stop at checkpoints. They may be asking for your identification, driver’s license, and other documents for inspection purposes. Don’t be offended, be polite and friendly while stopping at checkpoints.

Some checkpoints use dogs for inspection. You must stay inside your vehicle, and doors must be kept closed. Once the inspection is done, thank the officer and continue driving. Make sure to abide by the precautions of local authorities, especially if you are headed North or East, as possible landmines are still scattered in these areas. Also, check for ‘No Entry” signs and follow them.

Other Tips

You also have to keep in mind how to respond to accidents while you are on the road. It can be nerve-wracking, especially that you are in a foreign country. Read more below to check on the things you must-do if you are involved in accidents.

What do I do in case of Accidents?

As a driver, you have to drive defensively since you never know how reckless other drivers on the road. If, in any case, you are involved in an accident, or you met an accident, never leave the scene right away. Use the early warning devices you have, switch your hazard flashes, and call the police or traffic officer if there is nearby to assist you.

Better to call an ambulance if there are injured ones due to the accident. If there are none, slowly move the involved vehicles ideally away from traffic lanes. Road accidents can result in traffic jams, especially in big cities of Sri Lanka where more vehicles are passing by. Accidents can also draw a large crowd, so be sure to stay inside your car with your seatbelt while waiting for authorities. You do not want to be mobbed by enraged locals because of the accident.

Driving conditions in Sri Lanka

Driving in Sri Lanka can be a handful as some drivers fail to follow road rules. But it is not an excuse for you, as a tourist, to also tweak some regulations on the road. It is still best to follow traffic signals and traffic signs to prevent accidents and to have a fulfilling road trip.

Accidents Statistics

Based on Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Transport, the country has 2,829 deaths due to road accidents. The data is much lower than in 2018, which recorded 3,097 deaths, bringing 1,162 motorcyclists as number one victims of road accidents. The Ministry of Transport in Sri Lanka has imposed strict implementation and enforcement of road rules to reduce oncoming traffic ​accidents.

Common Vehicles Used

It is impossible not to see a lot of passenger vehicles when you visit Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s Department of Motor Traffic recorded 875,864 registered passenger cars in 2019. In the same year, tuk-tuks or three-wheelers recorded the most number of registered vehicles at 1,175,077. So you will also expect more tuk-tuks are roaming around in Sri Lanka, especially in Colombo.

Toll Roads

All E-Grade highways in Sri Lanka have tolls and have a speed limit of 80-110 kilometers per hour. E01 Expressway (Southern Expressway) spans about 95.3 kilometers and extends to Matara. Meanwhile, the E03 Expressway (Colombo-Katunayake Expressway) connects Colombo with Bandaranaike International Airport, covering 25.8 kilometers. Pedestrians, three-wheelers, bicycles, motorcycles, and tractors are not allowed to enter the expressways.

Road Situation

Buses and tuk-tuks are everywhere, especially in the big cities of Sri Lanka. So expect a busy street when you pass by these places. However, expressways and highways are there to ease traffic congestion during rush hour. It is advisable that when you travel to Sri Lankan cities, be sure to be on the road hours before 7 to 7:30 AM and past 8 to 9 PM. This is to ensure that you won’t be stuck in traffic while on vacation,

Driving Culture

Sri Lankan drivers tend to be aggressive on the road yet observant and mindful while driving. Since overtaking is rampant in the country, drivers have to ensure that the roads are free when overtaking. At the same time, they can see signals on cars overtaking. Be alert as well, since some drivers do not follow the right lanes on the road. When roads are empty, they tend to occupy other lanes.

Local drivers, especially those in public transportation like buses and tuk-tuk, tend not religiously to follow the rules, hence committing road accidents. That is why tourists, apart from animals crossing the streets without warnings. They should also consider buses, bicycles, and tuk-tuks overtaking on each side, especially during rush hour.

Other Tips

While on the road, other things to note apart from those mentioned include tips on driving at night and speed limits. Read more below.

What is the Unite to Measure Speed?

When driving in Sri Lanka, speed limits are there to prevent road accidents. If you have traveled to many countries already, you will see the units to measure speed, MPH (miles per hour), and KPH (kilometers per hour). In Sri Lanka, KPH is used in traffic signs to indicate speed limits. Currently, only 9% of the world uses MPH. Some countries include the USA, Myanmar, Liberia, and the UK.

Is it Safe to Drive at Night?

Driving in Sri Lanka at night can be challenging, especially if you are driving to rural areas. It is advisable not to travel at night since some roads in remote areas are not really in good condition. Pedestrians and animals also appear on the road without warnings. Expect for roadblocks and one-way streets. These are common and may not be marked, so better watch your drive.

Things To Do in Sri Lanka

If you think you love Sri Lanka so much that you want to stay for more extended periods, below are some things you can do in this island country. And the possible jobs you might want to try in Sri Lanka. You will also find some helpful tips if you are planning to reside for good in Sri Lanka.

Drive as a Tourist

Tourists are allowed to drive in Sri Lanka. Given that you have your International Driver’s Permit with you, your local driver’s license, and other necessary documents that might present during checkpoints or inspections. With this, you are assured of a hassle-free road trip and exploration in Sri Lanka.

Work as a Driver

To find driving jobs in Sri Lanka, you must first have a residence visa. With this visa, you will be permitted to stay for a year, either for work or to study. You need to provide documents and secure the appropriate visa when you decide to look for driving jobs in Sri Lanka. In 2019, the services sector had an employment rate of 45.83%. The services sector includes transportation, making driving vacancies one of the more popular jobs in Sri Lanka in 2019.

The transportation industry includes the transport needs of tourists. To cater to their needs, driving jobs in airports and driving job vacancies in other Sri Lanka areas are expected. However, terror threats were experienced by the country in 2019. The tourist count could have been higher, and driving vacancies in Sri Lanka last 2019 could also go up if not for that unfortunate event.

Work as a Travel Guide

In 2019, Sri Lanka brought in 1.9 million tourists. Apart from a driving job in Sri Lanka that brings tourists from the airport to hotels, the tourism industry creates jobs to assist visitors as they visit destinations in Sri Lanka. You can work as a tourist guide lecturer to give information and narrations about tourism in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority will provide accreditation to whoever wants to work as a tourist guide.

Tourist driving jobs in Sri Lanka are also popular. Tourist driving jobs in Sri Lanka include bringing tourists from one destination to another and at the same time a tourists’ guide. Travel agencies prefer a multi-tasker to drive and guide tourists. You should know the road rules to be qualified for these driving vacancies in Sri Lanka. Good knowledge of the country’s history and culture and their national language can help you land a tourism industry job.

Apply for Residency

Requirements for a residence visa include a letter from the applicant’s employer in Sri Lanka, a Board of Investment certificate, a photocopy of the photo page of the applicant’s passport, a company registration certificate, and a recommendation from the Ministry of Sri Lanka. Foreigners need to renew their residence visas yearly. That is if you plan to stay in Sri Lanka for more than a year.

Other Things To Do

You can drive for more than 12 months, but you will have to secure an additional driving licence in Sri Lanka. Your temporary driving license will not be applicable anymore after six months. To get a driving license in Sri Lanka, you must pass practical tests and the written one. Read through and be guided on how to get a driving license in Sri Lanka and other job opportunities in the country.

What Are Other Job Opportunities in Sri Lanka?

Whether full time or part-time driving jobs in Sri Lanka, you need to secure an employment visa.

You may find temporary jobs in the sectors of commerce and industry, hospitality, and tourism other than part-time driving jobs in Sri Lanka. When working in the government, employees are expected to be working permanently after their probationary period, so landing a job in, say, driving jobs in the Sri Lanka government could be your option.

Every year the Sri Lankan government opens job opportunities to its people to address its unemployment rate. Thousands of jobs are available. Among the 25 job types offered include the driving jobs or driving assistant jobs in Sri Lanka government.

Can A Foreigner Obtain a Sri Lankan License?

The answer is yes! But only those tourists having a valid visa of more than six months are allowed to get a Sri Lankan license. Those with less than six months on their visa will be given a temporary driving license in Sri Lanka. There are also driving license exam questions in Sri Lanka that you need to take in any other application. Authorities will guide you on how to get a driving license in Sri Lanka.

An applicant must comply with the necessary documents and undergo a driving test to get a license in Sri Lanka. Before taking a driving test in Sri Lanka, you need to pass the theory exam. Be sure to also be in good physical health since they will have to require you to submit a medical certificate. Driving trial in Sri Lanka is the same term as driving test. You can only take the driving trial or test in Sri Lanka three months after taking your written exam.

Is the Renewal of Sri Lankan License Possible?

Yes, you can renew your Sri Lankan license. How to renew a driving license in Sri Lanka?. Visit the Department of Motor Traffic in Colombo and bring the necessary documents. To renew a driving license in Sri Lanka costs Rs 320. The driving license renewal charge can vary, so better ask first and avoid fixers. They somehow cost much more than the average amount. To process the renewal of your driving license in Sri Lanka, you don’t need a practical test anymore.

For driving license renewal in Sri Lanka, all you need to present is a current driver’s license, identification card, or a valid passport and a medical certificate to be submitted to the Department of Motor Traffic. Note that you have to submit your application for driving license renewal in Sri Lanka three months before its expiration. If you prefer to rush the process of your driving license in Sri Lanka, renewal charges come at a higher cost at Rs 370.

The Top Destinations in Sri Lanka

Included among the 34 biodiversity hotspots, thousands of kilometers of coastlines, home of the rarest and endangered flora and fauna, pilgrimage, wildlife, and culture hotspots. These are just a few of the categories you will expect when you journey around this island country. If you're lucky and a feast takes place during your visit, you can experience their festivals and taste some exotic spices and mouth-watering delicacies. Let’s tour around Sri Lanka and be amazed.

Kandy

Kandy remains one of the most important cultural and religious centers in Sri Lanka. The city is both administrative and religious, being home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the holiest worship places for Buddhists. Since Sri Lanka is one of the largest tea-producing countries in the world, make your way to the hilly areas of the city to know more about tea production in the country.

Kandy

Driving Directions:

  1. From Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.
  2. Follow B208 and Veyangoda - Ruwanwella Road/B445 to Colombo - Kandy Rd/Kandy Rd/A1 in Nittambuwa.
  3. Turn left at Acupuncture & Homoeopathy Doctor in Sri Lanka onto Colombo - Kandy Rd/Kandy Rd/A1.
  4. Continue to follow Colombo - Kandy Rd/A1.
  5. Pass by BBQ Lanka (on the right).
  6. Follow Gannoruwa Road and AB42 to your destination in Kandy.

Things To Do

You can visit some religious sites in Kandy, and if you prefer to experience what it’s like in the mountain areas of the city, a 30-minute drive in the city’s hilly parts is even possible for a day trip. Here are some destinations you might consider visiting in Kandy.

1. Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

It is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy with a golden roof. The temple houses the sacred tooth of the Buddha. The room that houses the relic is open to devotees and tourists and is heavily guarded. The relic is in a gold casket, the reason you don’t see the relic once you visit there.

2. Stroll along Kandy Lake

The lake was artificially constructed in 1807 by the last king of Sri Lanka, Wikrama Rajasinhe. Also called the Milky Ocean, the lake serves as a place where people take quiet walks and respite from Kandy’s bustling metro. Though located at the heart of the city, the lake guarantees visitors some quiet time.

3. Witness the Esala Perahara

If you visit Kandy in July or August, marvel at the annual Esala Peraha procession. It is a parade of the Buddha’s sacred tooth relic and colorful elephants, local dancers, drummers, and fire plays. This historical procession is to pay homage to the sacred tooth relic of Buddha. The festival ends with the traditional water cutting ceremony, which is held at the Mahaweli River.

4. Get to know different plant species at Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden.

The garden has more than 4000 plants such as orchids, medicinal plants, spices, and palm trees. As you walk through some areas in the botanical garden, be in awe of the long palm framed pathways. The botanical garden also features deliciously smelling plants in its spices gardens, from nutmeg, pepper to cinnamon and cardamom. There are several markets in the area if you are looking to take some spices back home.

5.Discover tea production in Giragama Tea Plantation

The Giragama Tea Plantation sits about 613 meters above sea level in Kandy City. See for yourself the process of producing tea by joining a guided tour of the plantation. You can marvel at the beauty of plucking tea leaves by hand at the fields and straight to its plantation for further processing. There are machines already to help in the process; however, it has not entirely replaced the handmade process that ensures its quality.

Horton Plains National Park

This is for hiking junkies where you can enjoy 3,169 hectares of flora and fauna. You take that 9km, 3-hour trek from the visitor center. Horton Plains offers the coldest and windiest place Sri Lanka has to offer. Enjoy that! As you hike, appreciate the Horton Plains’ terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Inside Horton Plains, you will see the World’s End - a sheer cliff that is about 4,000 feet above sea level. And after a long hike, enjoy the cold waters of Baker’s Falls.

Horton Plains National Park

Driving Directions:

  1. From Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport Take Lunugamwehera - Airport Rd to Colombo- Galle - Hambantota - Wellawaya Hwy/Colombo-Galle-Hambantota-Wellawaya Highway/A2.
  2. Continue on Colombo-Galle-Hambantota-Wellawaya Hwy/A2. Take Wellawaya-Ella-Kumbalwela Highway/A23 to Roehampton-Diyatalawa-Bandarawela Rd/B396 in Bandarawela.
  3. Take Ohiya Rd/B508 to World's End Rd/B512 in Central Province.
  4. Keep right to continue on Roehampton-Diyatalawa-Bandarawela Rd/B396.
  5. Turn right at Junction WTP to Junction Diyathalawa WSS onto Ellagama Rd/Ellegama Rd.
  6. Turn left at Mirahawatta-Diyatalawa Rd.
  7. Make a left turn.
  8. Turn right at Kirinda Jct onto Keppetipola - Boralanda - Haputale Rd/B353.
  9. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Ohiya Rd/B508.
  10. At Horton Plains National Park, Ohiya Rd/B508 turns right and becomes World's End Rd/B512.

Things To Do

1. Hike to the World’s End

It’s not as scary as you thought it would be. The World’s End is one of the most visited parks in Horton Plains. Spot some deers along your hike and hundreds of birds. As you reach the World’s End, enjoy the tea-plantation villages and the view of the Indian Ocean. It is best to visit here from 6 AM to 9 AM before the clouds roll in and replace the view with only a swirling white wall.

2. Make a stop at Baker’s Falls.

As you make a loop with your hike to the World’s End, you will come across the Baker’s Falls. The falls were named after English explorer Samuel Baker. Though it is not advisable to swim here because of its strong current, tourists can enjoy the falls’ beauty from the view deck near the falls. During April and May, spot some Rhododendrons blooming around the falls.

3. Camp inside the Horton Plains National Park

There are three designated campsites inside the national park where you can choose from. Make sure to book ahead so you can have a camping space when you visit. Unlike any other camping sites, campfires are not allowed inside the national park. Months of January to March are the best times to camp here as these are considered drier months in the region. Bring lots of water, food and thick clothes. It can get cold at night.

4. Enjoy the Chimney Pool

To spot the best view of the Chimney Pool, you can pinch your tent at campsite 1. Though not many campers swim here, you can use the pool for bathing and washing purposes. It is not safe to drink from the pool. Make sure to be extra cautious when you decide to take a bath here. You might as well ask the attendants of the national park before doing so.

5. Stay at the Wildlife Bungalow

If you are not comfortable staying at campsites, you can stay overnight at wildlife bungalows inside the national park. There are three types of bungalows where you can choose from by visiting the Wildlife Department website. Each bungalow has ten beds. It still feels like staying with nature since you can even spot wild animals such as deers in the area.

Hiriketiya

‘Hiri,’ as tourists fondly call it, has slowly attracted visitors, locals and foreigners alike. With its clear waters, coconut trees as shade, and friendly waves ideal for those who want to learn surfing, this place has been one of the top beach destinations on the south coast. Located in the town of Dikwella, Hiriketiya attracts all types of travelers to soak up the sun and enjoy some water adventures on the side.

Hiriketiya

Driving Directions:

  1. From Mattala Rajapaksa Hambantota Airport get on E01.
  2. Follow E01. Take the exit toward B54 from E01.
  3. Keep right to continue on E01.
  4. Toll road.
  5. Take the exit toward B54.
  6. Pass by Beliatta Interchange (on the right in 700 m.
  7. Take Dikwella - Beliatte Rd/B101 to your destination.

Things To Do

Indulging in water activities is a popular way to enjoy your visit to Hiriketiya. But do you know that you can learn more about Sri Lanka in terms of their culture and tradition here? Read more below.

1. Surf at Hiriketiya Beach

This is a haven for those who want to learn surfing or love to take their surfing skills to the next level. With pretty mellow waves for beginners and stronger swells for advanced surfers, the beach has gathered visitors and locals. For beginners, you can visit from December to February as waves are friendlier. Meanwhile, for experienced surfers, the best time to visit here is from August to December.

2. Get some culture fix at Wewurukannala Vihara Temple.

The temple is about seven minutes away from Hiriketiya beach by car. The temple has an image of a 160-foot high Buddha. For you to get to the statue, you need to pass through a long corridor of horrors full of life-sized models of demons and sinners. The temple is always full of believers and tourists who are curious about the unusual path going to the statue.

3. Do Yoga

As much as you want the thrill from surfing and other watersports on the beach, some tourists also like to relax and do yoga. There is no shortage of beach yoga and yoga studios here that you can select. Yoga enthusiasts can do their meditation and exercise during quiet times and vacant spaces on the beach.

4. Discover the Hummanaya Blowhole

The Hummanaya Blowhole is a natural phenomenon that sprays a jet of seawater into the air between two giant rocks, mostly reaching heights of over 80-100 feet. Known to be the second largest in the world, it is located near a small fishing village in Kudawella and is just a 13-minute drive from Hiriketiya. You sure would not want to miss this when you head to the southern coast of the country. Make sure to visit here during high tide.

5. Enjoy a beautiful sunset

One of the nice things to do in Hiriketiya is to witness the sunset. The beach can go extra sometimes as sunset is combined with surfers enjoying the afternoon swells. Hiriketiya can get busy before dusk as a lot of surfers get into the water during sunset time. Waves are a bit stronger at this time of the day, so you mostly see experienced surfers riding and gliding with the waves.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya is in the Matale District in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. It sits in the country’s cultural triangle formed by Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy that includes five of the eight world heritage sites in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is famous for the palace ruins on top of a massive rock surrounded by remains of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. The rock is said to be a lava plug left over from an ancient long extinct volcano.

Sigiriya Photo by Dylan Shaw

Driving Directions:

  1. From Bandaranaike International Airport, continue to Katunayake-Veyangoda Road/Veyangoda Rd/B208.
  2. Head northeast.
  3. Continue straight.
  4. Keep right.
  5. Take Ekala - Kotadeniyawa Rd/B111, B308, Kurunegala-Narammala-Madampe Rd/B247, and Ambepussa - Kurunegala - Trincomalee Highway/Ambepussa - Trincomalee Hwy/Kandy Rd/A6 to Sigiriya Rd in Dambulla.
  6. Drive to your destination.
  7. Turn left at Sigiriya Budget Taxi Service.
  8. Turn left.

Things To Do

Sigiriya is one place you should not miss. Apart from its famous rock fortress, nearby towns and places offer a thing or two that show the culture and traditions of Sri Lanka. Below are some places you must take note of in Sigiriya.

1. Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress

This UNESCO World Heritage Site sits in Dambulla in Central Sri Lanka. It is a 200-meter square-shaped rock, and the name of the place came from the structure itself - Sinhagiri or the Lion Rock. Sigiriya was a palace-fortress for one of the ancient Sinhalese kings. The park opens at 7 AM, and the climb will take you about an hour to reach the top. The crowd can also be a factor in the pace of your climb.

2. Catch the sunrise at Pidurangala Rock

This rock is situated right next to the Sigiriya rock fortress. The hike is about 30-40 minutes from the entrance of Sigiriya. This rock has a much more nature-like feel, despite also housing valleys’ temple. Pidurangala Rock serves as the best viewing spot of the Sigiriya rock and the 360-degree views. Most tourists catch the sunrise here before heading to the Sigiriya rock for the sunset. Or you can enjoy both from up here.

3. Visit the Sigiriya Museum

The museum sits near the Sigiriya Rock ticket office. Discover more about Sigiriya through its jewels, human skeletons, sculptures, ancient tools, drawings, and photographs on display. It is divided into three sections: prehistoric Sigiriya to agrarian village settlements and early Buddhist monastic period, and pre-Kasyapa period. The last section honors King Kasyapa and the Golden Age of Sigiriya.

4. Check some local art.

Pethikada is a small art gallery in the town center owned by a local man named Jagath, whose works resemble the ancient painting found in Sigiriya Rock. While you are in town, visit this man’s metal workshop near the corner of Sigiriya Road. His works include silver, brass, and copper and make everything from jewelry boxes to tea tins. If you have time, you can watch his show how he makes designs in the metals.

5. Go on a safari ride in Minneriya National Park.

Minneriya National Park is just 28 minutes away from Sigiriya. If you want to see elephants, then take this national park as your side trip. Since the area is 8890-hectares vast, you need to go on a jeep safari. Enjoy elephants gathering together in groups as large as 350. You can visit the national park all year round but the best time to visit here is from July to September.

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